CITY REDS 34-42 WILDCATS
Wakefield Wildcats stormed into the play-offs with a seventh straight victory after beating Salford City Reds 42-34.
The run of form is a Super League record for Trinity and was completed courtesy of a seven try performance at Leigh Sports Village.
The Wildcats went into the game knowing they were guaranteed a place in the play-offs due to Catalan beating Bradford 50-26 just hours earlier. Head coach Richard Agar decided to tell his team before kick off as just one change was made to his team with Ali Lauitiiti being replaced by Kyle Trout in the 17 due to illness. Mariano replaced the Kiwi in the starting team with the youngster taking his place on the bench.
After an uneventful opening to the game Mariano celebrated his starting spot with a try after half-backs Tim Smith and Paul Sykes combined to send the second-rower over. Just minutes later fellow forward Andy Raleigh went over after a Tim Smith offload found the prop in space and reacted quickly enough to get the ball over the line, giving the visitors a 12-0 lead.
Wakefield were now in full swing as quick hands by Tim Smith and Richard Mathers provided a try for Dean Collis with Sykes nailing his third conversion of the evening before Salford hit back.
Winger Danny Williams sneaked in for a try under pressure from Mathers after the ‘hosts’ created an overlap and it wasn’t long before Sean Gleeson made it two City Reds tries after neat play down their right edge, leaving the score 18-12 to Trinity.
With seconds remaining until the half time hooter the stage seemed set for a Paul Sykes drop goal to extend the lead but right on the hooter Paul Johnson found himself in space 10 metres out and charged over the line, which was given by the video referee after questions over a double movement.
Both sides then exchanged scores after the break with the Wildcats top scorer Ben Cockayne going over for his 100th career try after yet another Tim Smith assist. The Reds Vinnie Anderson soon hit back though to keep Phil Vievers’ men in the game.
Eighth place Wakefield then put the game to bed after tries from Peter Fox and Lee Smith, first Collis produced a moment of magic to draw in winger Jodie Broughton before offloading with extreme skill to Fox to finish off. Lee Smith then benefited from a fine break by Paul Sykes with Mariano providing the final pass for Smith to charge onto to make it 42-18 with Sykes maintaining his 100% record from seven attempts.
The game ended on a slightly sour note as a brace from Ashley Gibson and a Matty Ashurst gave the score line a much more even look, despite the visitors dominance. Sandwiched in those scores was an altercation between Mathers and Daniel Holdsworth with the Salford half-back taking exception to a challenge from the full-back.
Wakefield will now face Leeds Rhinos next Saturday at Headingley for a place in the second week of the play-offs. After losing in the Challenge Cup to Brian McDermott’s men it has been one win each after the 38-18 victory at the Rapid Solicitors Stadium in July.
CITY REDS: Veivers, Broughton, Gibson, Gleeson, Williams, Holdsworth, Howarth, Sidlow, Anderson, Boyle, Ashurst, Nero, Wild. SUBS: James, Adamason, Owen, Neal.
WILDCATS: Mathers, Fox, Collis, L.Smith, Cockayne, Sykes, T.Smith, Amor, Ellis, Raleigh, Mariano, Kirmond, Washbrook. SUBS: Wood, Trout, Johnson, Wilkes.